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2013 Dart -- Ignite the Dodge Fever

By Arv Voss, June 2nd, 2012

Looking to ignite Dodge fever with the re-introduction of the Dart, the American automaker heats up the competitive compact sedan segment with its all-new sedan that displays the profile of a sports coupe.

Manufacturer photo: The 2013 Dodge Dart is available in five trim levels: SE, SXT, Rallye, Limited and R/T with a starting price of $15,995
Manufacturer photo: The 2013 Dodge Dart is available in five trim levels: SE, SXT, Rallye, Limited and R/T with a starting price of $15,995

The new Dart represents a mold-shattering image in the compact sedan marketplace that offers the longest wheelbase, the widest front track, the longest overall length, the greatest width, and the longest greenhouse footprint.

The 2013 Dart sports a design that is timeless in nature. It is boldly athletic and agile in its overall appearance, displaying fluid, smooth flowing lines that deliver a sculpted rather than stamped image. The proportions are exceptionally well balanced and aerodynamic, delivering a clean, dramatic and aero-friendly package.

From the front, the distinctive, modernized version of the iconic "cross-hair" grille rides above a large front bar and honeycomb mesh lower opening, flanked by wraparound headlamps and sculpted lower foglamp housings. The rear is accented by an integrated deck spoiler lip and split dual exhaust pipes housed in a reverse panel.

The interior is no less impressive with precision craftsmanship and high-tech, unseen-in-the-segment features, such as the class-exclusive, customizable 7-inch gauge cluster, 8.4-inch Uconnect touch screen, heated steering wheel and illuminated floating island bezel in the instrument panel.

Manufacturer photo: The 2013 Dodge Dart is available in five trim levels: SE, SXT, Rallye, Limited and R/T with a starting price of $15,995

The 2013 Dodge Dart comes in five distinctive trims: SE, SXT, Rallye, Limited, and R/T. Prices start at $15,995. Power for all model Darts is generated by world-class, state-of-the-art, fuel efficient, four-cylinder powerplants. True value packaging is prevalent throughout the model range with equipment and features provided, that in many cases are not even available on many competitive vehicles in the compact sedan class.

The front-wheel-drive Dart four-cylinder comes in three versions: a 2.0-liter Tigershark; 1.4-liter MultiAir intercooled, turbocharger; a 2.4-liter Tigershark MultiAir coupled with either a six-speed manual or automatic gearbox.

The 2013 Dodge Dart is one sweet four-door sport sedan. It's a superlative cut above the old Neon, which it might be considered a replacement for -- at least in the market category.

During the national press launch, I piloted both the SXT and Rallye models. The SXT was powered by the turbo engine that yielded 160 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. torque mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. The Rallye model had the base engine of the Tigershark 2.0-liter, 160-horsepower with 148 lb.-ft. torque and six-speed automatic transmission.

I actually preferred the Rallye with the Tigershark 2.0-liter engine and automatic transmission. The SXT version didn't seem to measure up to the level of performance of the Fiat Abarth (shares the same basic engine). Admittedly, it's bigger and heavier than the Fiat, but even the exhaust note was lacking.

Manufacturer photo: The 2013 Dodge Dart is available in five trim levels: SE, SXT, Rallye, Limited and R/T with a starting price of $15,995

Both Dart models rode comfortably and handled with agility and preciseness. And obviously both served up the same fresh, appealing good looks, with minor differences in finish details.

Standard features abound in every trim level, with an impressive menu of available options, including the 8.4-inch touch screen with backup camera, Garmin navigation with Sirius travel link, polished or hyper-black wheel finishes, leather seating, heated seats and steering wheel, blind spot warning, RCP detection, Keyless Go and SmartBeam, remote start, cruise control, as well as customized interior colors.

Specifications

Base price $18,995 (as tested: $22,765)
Curb weight 3,242 lbs.
Displacement 2.0-liter
Engine type 16-valve 4-cylinder w/MPFI
Epa mileage rating 25 mpg city, 36 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 15.8 gal.
Horsepower (net) 160 at 6400 rpm
Overall length 183.9 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 148 at 4600 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Vehicle type 5-passenger FWD compact sedan
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